New Tempest poem warns of effects of alienation

New Tempest poem warns of effects of alienation

Picador is publishing a new long poem by Kate Tempest composed from the lyrics of her forthcoming album.

Let Them Eat Chaos, to be released in print and e-book, has been written for live performance as a poem that can "hold its own", while it can also be heard on the album release of the same name for which it is designed to be a "companion".

It is described as both a "powerful sermon" and a "moving play of voices" about seven "damaged" neighbours who inhabit the same London street. Each is unknown to one another until a great storm breaks, bringing them out into the night to face each other as "their last chance to connect".

The poem argues, according to the publisher, that our alienation from one another has bred "a terrible indifference to our own fate", calling for us to "mend the broken home of our own planet while we still have time".

Don Paterson acquired rights to publish in the UK, Ireland, the rest of the EU and in the Commonwealth (excluding Canada), with non-exclusive rights in the rest of the world, except the USA, the Philippines and Canada (which are reserved by the author) from Becky Thomas at Johnson and Alcock.

Picador will publish Let Them Eat Chaos in October to coincide with the album by the same title. Tempest will be embarking on an international tour with the album. 

She said: "After weeks of intense writing in the recording studio with Dan Carey, I had finished the first draft of what would become Let Them Eat Chaos, but I was unsatisfied with the shape of the piece; I knew what I wanted it to do, but hadn't yet been able to find the right way to make it happen. I had generated a lot of material, but it wasn't yet sharp enough. I wanted the lyrics to be driven and clear, but I hadn't quite got to the core of things, so I took all the different drafts, false starts and half-finished ideas from my notebooks and worked up a manuscript, with the intention of applying some of the editing principles I'd learned from Don Paterson to my album lyrics. I cut and clarified, lost the baggy bits, interrogated the ideas and looked at the piece as a whole. I saw how to frame it in a more satisfying way and found a route through something that had been blocking me before. I realised that in essence it was beginning to feel similar to Brand New Ancients, without that being intentional or forced, I wondered if this story I was working on could be a poem in its own right, and so I called Don and told him that I thought I had an idea. 

"This is not a transcript of the album, but a companion to it, in the same way that the text of Brand New Ancients works as a companion to a performance piece. I enjoyed the challenges of asking the page to support the words and asking the words to support themselves without music. I hope the poem works as a poem, and holds its own."

Tempest, born in London in 1985, has written plays including Wasted (Methuen Drama) and Hopelessly Devoted (Bloomsbury), and poetry collections Everything Speaks in its Own Way and Hold Your Own (Picador), as well as her long poem "Brand New Ancients" (Pan Macmillan) and novel The Bricks that Built the Houses (Bloomsbury). She was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize for "Everybody Down", and received the Ted Hughes Award and a Herald Angel award for "Brand New Ancients".